No Time To Play

Tag: adventure

Weekly Links #178: retrogaming edition

by on Jul.09, 2017, under Gamedev, News

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another week with lots of links about gaming old-style. But I’ll start with something different: my friend fluffy is at it again, this time with a kind of super-Arkanoid focused on music and physics. Watch the latest video below:

Next, we have news for fans of adventure gaming. For one thing, as of this week Double Fine Productions has a presence on itch.io, with remastered editions of many classics. How appropriate then that PCGamer would run a new interview with Tim Schafer about the making of Full Throttle. Then there’s an article about the music of Sierra games, and I know all too well how music can bring a game to life. One more reason for me to value free culture.

On a related note, nominations for the XYZZY Awards are in, and you can now vote on round two. Then we have some more musings on CYOA books and the importance of bad endings in making choices meaningful. And while I agree in principle, most bad endings in CYOA books (or for that matter most text adventures) are 1) barely hinted if at all, and 2) completely unsatisfying non-conclusions that just cut the story short without giving anything like closure. And that’s not even counting the ability to lose on a single bad roll of the dice, through no fault of your own. So much for meaningful choice.

Last but not least, Vintage is the New Old covers and Eurogamer write-up about the reasons people still make NES games. And if you’ve been paying attention lately, you know it’s not just nostalgia.

But I’m over quota again. See you next week!

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Weekly Links #176

by on Jun.25, 2017, under News, Off-topic

Hello, everyone, and welcome to a rather disjoint newsletter. No sooner does a game jam end, that another comes along. The traditional Open Game Art game jam has moved to itch.io, and is set to begin in less than a week. Also on itch.io you can now find Jonathan Cauldwell’s Arcade Game Designer, a popular tool in the retrogaming community, whose members keep pushing the limits of 8-bit machines. And while we’re partying like it’s 1987, here’s the story of Minitel, France’s original take on a public computer network.

Moving on, fans of interactive fiction might want to know that the XYZZY Awards are open for voting, while people who design adventure games (but not only) would do well to read about the urbanism of Thimbleweed Park. In more technical news, someone apparently made it possible to run Pygame games in the browser (via the Lemmasoft forums). I haven’t tried it, but the article also documents a game developer’s journey, so it’s worth a read for that alone.

Last but not least, it’s good to hear that Machinarium is getting a remaster. Which is awesome, because I bought this excellent adventure game years ago but could never run it on any of my boxes. Ironically, I should have better chances with a game built on DirectX than the original Flash format.

Which of course says a lot about the sorry state of multiplatform graphics APIs in 2017. Oh well, see you next week.

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Weekly Links #162

by on Mar.19, 2017, under News

Hello, everyone! I’ve set aside development for a while to play again, thanks to a present from a friend. But that didn’t stop me from also collecting a bunch of useful links.

For starters, both Gamasutra and Emily Short write about a new interactive fiction platform called Episode, that seems to have stealthily risen to massive popularity as of late. In related news, PC Gamer has an article titled The Tricky Business of Making Modern Adventure Games. And to look back into the past, Tim Schafer shares his thoughts on digital archeology (via Patrick Hellio).

Speaking of the past, this has been a good week for fans of retrogaming. On the one hand, there’s the story of a classic game magazine from the 1980s, and it’s surprisingly relevant. Hint: when a publication takes advertising from the same companies whose products they cover… yeah, you can’t blame the writers for being very careful what they write. It’s either that, or be out of a job faster than they can press Enter.

Luckily, nowadays you can be a game journalist for free, and that’s exactly what The Retrogaming Times crew is doing. Issue 7 is the first one I did more than skim, with a big retrospective of Street Fighter II — covering the social angle — and a number of Famicom games that deserve being remembered despite not being classics, among other subjects. All features are in-depth, so dive in! (And thanks to Vintage is the New Old for the tip, as usual.)

Sadly, I have to finish this issue with politics, namely an article on the people you won’t meet. Yes, it’s about Muslim game developers again. And it’s sad having to even bring it up, as if human rights could possibly be conditional, but I had no idea so many famous AAA games only exist thanks to developers of Iranian origin.

Can we please learn humanity already?

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Weekly Links #158

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Case study, News, Off-topic

Hello, everyone! It’s yet another good week, despite my interests still lying well outside gaming for now. Let’s start with a couple of game retrospectives from Hardcore Gaming 101, first the long-lost and recently unearthed Warcraft Adventures, then of a much newer title: Tim Schafer’s big comeback Broken Age. Which, if anything, illustrated both the potential and the danger crowdfunding holds even for a veteran game designer with countless fans. And still in the way of game retrospectives, Emily Short’s latest RPS column is about games that involve dressing up and going to a party, preferably with a good dose of swashbuckling. Much like her own creation Pytho’s Mask, that’s still among my all-time favorites.

In more technical news, we have another RPS article, this time on tools for RPG writing (think branching conversations and quests), and via Juhanna Leinonen, the announcement of a tool for translating interactive fiction. Not much to say there, except that tools are as hard to make as they are increasingly needed for good games, so it’s worth paying attention.

I’ll end with a story that’s more about art, culture and people than games, but still relevant in my opinion: Vanishing Point, or How the Light Grid Defined 1980s Futurism. On this note I bid you a good week. Until next time.

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Weekly Links #17

by on May.06, 2014, under News

You know, for having spent half of the past week out of town, I’ve got more links than I hoped. Thank Ceiling Cat for wireless Internet and Android tablets.

I’ll start with this playthrough of a game from the recent Ludum Dare. Disclaimer: the developers are friends of mine. It’s one of them playing — I found the game just too hard for me.

For the curious, William the Wopol is written in Love 2D, using a custom engine and editor that by now has proven to be very robust.

(continue reading…)

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The work-to-fun ratio

by on Mar.27, 2011, under Gamedev

You know how adventure games went from being the most popular kind to becoming a minor niche? Much has been written about the why and how of it, and whether it was deserved or not. But nothing compares to discovering for yourself the trade-offs involved in making adventure games versus any other kind.

See, working on a text adventure so soon after an arcade game made me notice a simple fact that should have been obvious in retrospect: the ratio of effort spent to entertainment provided is terrible for the former. So bad, in fact, that I can understand any game developer (whether professional or hobbyst) who decides it’s simply not worth it.

(continue reading…)

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Game-making tools, part two

by on Jan.24, 2011, under Gamedev

Artist Toolbox: Dean Russo / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009 / 20090926.10D.54862.P1.L1 / SML

It’s only natural for a gamer to dream of making their own games. The good news is, the means for doing that are available to just about anyone nowadays. The bad news is, many people shy away at the thought of having to learn programming. And while that fear is completely unfounded, getting help as a beginner is of course useful.

In part one of this article, I mentioned a number of game-making tools that make game programming much, much easier than starting from scratch. This time I’m going to look at the kind that seeks to eliminate programming altogether, at least for the most part.

(continue reading…)

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Game making tools, part one

by on Jan.22, 2011, under Gamedev, Review

Making your own games is exhilarating, and surprisingly accessible considering all the work involved. But it’s still non-trivial; computer games are software, so beginners will struggle with learning enough programming, and they’re complex, so experts will struggle with juggling all the details.

This is why people have developed various pieces of software to ease game creation, ranging from the very general, that just help with the basic framework of a game, to modding tools that only allow making more content for a specific game (although the line is easily blurred, seeing how the Starcraft 2 SDK has been used to make everything from a falling blocks game, through shooters and racing games, and all the way to a full-blown MMORPG).

In the following paragraphs, I will focus on tools that cover the middle ground between those extremes.

(continue reading…)

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The game that had no genre

by on Aug.26, 2010, under Case study

Back when videogames were still new, there was no such thing as game genres; the very concept of a videogame was still taking shape. But we humans love putting labels on things, and once certain types of game mechanics proved popular, it wasn’t long before the market settled on a few easily identifiable genres which it exploited. Sure, new kinds of games continued to appear all along the 1980es and 1990es, but they were all promptly milked to death by an increasingly risk-averse gaming industry.

Luckily, nowadays the situation has been reversed again. Not only are indie game developers churning out an impressive array of innovative titles, but even established genres are going right back into the blender. RPGs are borrowing from shooters (Fallout 3, Mass Efect). Shooters are borrowing from strategy games (Team Fortress 2, Tremulous). And strategy games have had RPG elements since at least Heroes of Might and Magic 3 (for a modern example, see Battle for Wesnoth).

But even in the intervening years there were games that dared to break the mold and combine two existing kinds of gameplay into a coherent whole, or even do something entirely unique.

(continue reading…)

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